Looking for cheap or free things to do and see in Copenhagen?
As a foreigner living in the city, I know what is worth visiting for a tourist – and what is not. That is why I wanted to list my own favourites and top sights that I think, you should definitely try out.
- The Free Ones
- 1. Snap a picture of Nyhavn
- 2. Try the Free Walking Tour
- 3. Explore Christiania
- 4. Go see the Little Mermaid
- 5. Visit Free Museums
- 6. Swim in Islands Brugge
- 7. Be Amazed by the Botanical Garden
- 8. Climb to The Tower of Christiansborg Palace
- 9. Walk the Strøget
- 10. Enjoy a Free Culture Experience at the Royal Theater
- Cheap Things for people on a budget – but who are willing to pay a little
- 11. Ride a City Bike
- 12. Take the riverboat
- 13. Visit the Carlsberg Brewery
- 14. Have a Hot Dog
- 15. Eat genuine Copenhagen Street Food
- 16. Visit Meat Packing District “Kødbyen”
- 17. See The Tivoli
- 18. Visit World’s Oldest Amusement Park Bakken
- 19. Eat some smørrebrød
- 20. See Christiansborg Palace
- 21. Climb Rundetårn – the Round Tower
- 22. Visit Rosenborg Castle
- 23. Visit Amalienborg Palace
- 24. Eat a snegle
The Free Ones
First I’ll start off by going through the list of free things you should do in Copenhagen. I’m always updating this list, so feel free to send me a suggestion through the Contact page how to make this article longer and better!
1. Snap a picture of Nyhavn
The amazing Nyhavn area is filled with cool and cozy restaurants (and tourists, unfortunately). Nyhavn used to be a busy port, but has since been renovated to fit the needs of the modern day.
You should definitely take a picture of Nyhavn’s colourful houses. Everyone should. In addition to photographing the area, you can enjoy a great meal in one of the restaurants or just pick up some food and drinks from a small shop nearby and go sit at the water front.
An interesting fact: Hans Christian Andersen, the famous Danish fairytale writer, used to live in house no. 20 of Nyhavn.
2. Try the Free Walking Tour
Copenhagen Free Walking Tours offers a free tour of the city. And yes, it takes place every day of the year.
The tour starts at the City Hall at 11 in the morning. You have to note that there’s a minimum of 5 people or the tour will get cancelled… So feel free to bring all your friends.
There’s also a free walking tour at Christianshavn that starts at 16:00 from the Bispo Absalon’s Equestrian Statue on Højbro Plads square. I know that’s a lot of weird words, but it’s the small square in the inner city right next to the mid section of Strøget and TGI Fridays – close to Illum department store. This walking tour will end in Christiania.
3. Explore Christiania
Christiania is a “freetown” – meaning that it is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood. In the past years, there have been lots of discussions about Christiania’s role and whether its legal status should somehow be normalized. It is a safe area to visit – and the infamous drug streets are now quieter than before.
You can explore the area yourself or take part in the walking tour that was mentioned above.
4. Go see the Little Mermaid
The sight that Copenhagen is best known for. The Little Mermaid statue was made by Edvard Eriksen and depicts the main character in Christian Andersen’s fairy tale that goes by the same name. So far, the statue has been decapitated only twice. (I’m not cheering for a third time…)
It is free to go and see this attraction, but the area is usually packed full with tourists. So if you don’t want to see tens or hundreds of people with cameras going off every second, you might actually want to skip seeing the Little Mermaid. Although, not visiting the Mermaid would be like going to Egypt and not seeing the Pyramids, right?
5. Visit Free Museums
6. Swim in Islands Brugge
I do not recommend this outside the summer season as it kind of gets too cold for most people… But during June, July and August, dipping into the free harbour front swimming pool in Islands Brugge is definitely a fun and refreshing thing to do.
7. Be Amazed by the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden of Copenhagen is situated close to the Rosenborg Castle and the National Gallery. The garden covers a total area of 10 hectares and is free to visit. There are a total of 27 glasshouses and two cafes in the area. You can read more here.
8. Climb to The Tower of Christiansborg Palace
At 106 meters, this is the highest tower in Copenhagen. It was opened to the public in June 2014 and is now free to visit. It offers you a grand view over the city.
The tower even has its own website.
9. Walk the Strøget
Strøget is not actually a street per se – but a combination of several streets. Frederiksberggade, Nytorv, Gammeltorv, Nygade, Vimmelskaftet, Amagertorv and Østergade together form Strøget that is one of the longest pedestrian shopping streets in Europe. The total lenght is 1,1 kilometers so you an easily walk the whole thing – from one side to the other and back! Strøget used the be THE longest pedestrian street, but at least Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux and Laisvės Alėja in Kaunas city are now longer.
During the high season, around 80 000 people walk on Strøget every single day. And even in winter time, the number is around 48 000. So it might get crowded during peak hours.
10. Enjoy a Free Culture Experience at the Royal Theater
The Royal Danish Theater organizes free events on a regular basis. So if you don’t feel like paying for a cultural event but would very much like to get that experience, keep an eye on their website and social media accounts to see if something free is taking place soon.
Cheap Things for people on a budget – but who are willing to pay a little
For the things mentioned below here, you’ll have to pay a little. But they are on this list for a reason: it’s all worth the money.
11. Ride a City Bike
Cost: 25 DKK per hour per bike
Everyone bikes in Copenhagen! And as a tourist, you can and should too. The low cost rental bikes that you find around the city are called Bycyklen.
You can take a bike from one place and leave it at another. Just remember when you are done, that the bike needs to be left at a Bycykel station.
During my first visit to Copenhagen, we biked from Kongens Nytorv to the Little Mermaid and it was super fun!
12. Take the riverboat
Cost: 75 DKK per adult
Most riverboat tours last about an hour during which you can sit back and enjoy the views from the deck of a small(ish) boat. You’ll get to see the Little Mermaid, Nyhavn and many other attractions. Watch your head when the boat slides under low bridges!
13. Visit the Carlsberg Brewery
Cost: Miminum 80 DKK – includes 2 “free” beers
If you like good beer and great stories, Carlsberg Brewery is the attraction you must visit. I’ll let you decide if it actually is “probably the best beer in the world”.
14. Have a Hot Dog
Cost: around 20-30 DKK
You’ll quickly notice that there are a lot of Hot Dog stands around the city. It seems that the people of Copenhagen truly love their sausages. So why not give it a go and try one out? I personally love the French version where the sausage is almost completely hidden in a blanket of dough.
15. Eat genuine Copenhagen Street Food
On Papirøen, which means Paper Island, you will find Copenhagen’s street food market. Several small food trucks selling real street food that is delicious, sustainable and cool. Note that even though it is called “street food”, you can still enjoy the food indoors in the halls if it’s raining. To read more about the different trucks and companies that operate here, visit Copenhagen Street Food’s website.
16. Visit Meat Packing District “Kødbyen”
Kødbyen is a little quirky and bohemian, but still a super lovely and neat place to visit. You can visit the district for free, but I suggest that you try one of the delicious burgers that you can get from the area. A burger will cost you 50-100 DKK and a beer around 20-60 DKK depending on the size and brand.
At night, the Meat Packing District is sort of a “party area”. It’s a fun experience as well, but partying all night will definitely not be cheap or free.
17. See The Tivoli
Everyone knows the Tivoli. It is the 2nd oldest amusement park in the world. It is situated right next to the Copenhagen Central Station and only a few minutes away from the City Hall. There are a lot of beautiful buildings, green gardens, wild rides and good food in the Tivoli Gardens area. Prices vary depending on what you want and when you are there. Admission price for an adult is 120 DKK on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 110 DKK on other days. For children, admission is free. A multi ride ticket is 220 DKK. Note also that with a Copenhagen Card, the admission is free for adults as well.
18. Visit World’s Oldest Amusement Park Bakken
A short ride to the north of Copenhagen, lies Bakken – or Dyrehavsbakken – an amusement park that is over 430 years old. There are 33 different roller coasters, ferris wheels and other rides. In addition, the surrounding area, Dyrehave, is a lovely green area where you can find hundreds of free ranging deers.
19. Eat some smørrebrød
Do you know what a smørrebrød is? It’s an open-faced sandwich usually made out of rye bread. On top, you can add all sorts of different things ranging from meat, fish and cheese to different mayos and “meat spreads”.
Your visit will not be complete if you haven’t had at least one smørrebrød. The locals often have 1-3 for lunch and that’s what I’d do as well if I were you.
You can get smørrebrød from almost any cafes – and there are even separate smørrebrød restaurants that specialize in this delicacy.
My favourite is Øl & Brød by Mikkeller, but that might have something to do with their amazing selections of beers.
20. See Christiansborg Palace
Cost: Palace Chapel free, others 50-90 DKK for adults, 150 DKK for a combination ticket (see everything)
Slotsholmen is the small island in the middle of Copenhagen. On this island sits the palace of Christiansborg. This over 800 year old palace is today the home of the Danish Parlament, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Danish Supreme Court.
Many parts of the Christiansborg Palace are open to the public: the Royal Reception Rooms, the Royal Stables, the Palace Chapel, the Ruins and the Royal Kitchen are all open for visitors (note that at times, these are closed for official functions of the Queen of Denmark).
Definitely a must-see for any tourist!
(And remember the Tower of this place we mentioned earlier… It’s free to climb!)
21. Climb Rundetårn – the Round Tower
Cost: 25 kroner for an adult entry
Right on the busy walking street of Købmagergade, you can find the 36 meter high Rundetårn – the Round Tower. Originally it was built in 1642 to be an observatory. Today it is both an observatory and a museum! The way up is a long spiral ramp – in Danish, sneglegangen.
Read more: rundetaarn.dk
22. Visit Rosenborg Castle
Cost: 105 kroner for an adult entry
Completed in 1633 by King Christian IV, Rosenborg Castle used to serve as one of the homes of the Royals. Now it is open to tourists. For adults, the admission cost is 105 kroner and with that you can see the crown jewels and other amazing Royal Collections.
23. Visit Amalienborg Palace
Cost: 75 kroner for adult (without access to the piano nobile)
A rockthrow east of Nyhavn, Amalienborg Palace is the winter residence of the Danish Royal Family. Even though we use the name Amalienborg Palace, it is actually not just one building – it’s 4 different palaces. Tours cost between 75 and 95 kroner per person.
Here you can also follow the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place at noon every single day.
24. Eat a snegle
Cost: 5-35 krona
If you’ve been in Copenhagen for more than a day, you must’ve seen these. They’re the Danish version of a cinnamon roll (kanelsnegle). The classic “original” version has a sweet icing on top, but you can find these amazing rolls with only cinnamon or with chocolate on top.
The recipe for the yeast dough includes lots of butter and sugar. That’s why they taste so delicious!
We highly recommend you to try one. Just try to find a fresh one from a bakery. They are much better than the ones in supermarkets (although the supermarket snegles are delicious too).
All in all, Copenhagen is not a cheap city. But by following this list of free and cheap things, you can have a lot of fun and see a lot of attractions without spending a lot of money.
I’m updating this list all the time so feel free to send me your suggestions via the Contact page!